Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module LAW44215: Comparative Law in a Global Context

Department: Law

LAW44215: Comparative Law in a Global Context

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This course aims to give students an understanding in the main debates of comparative and transnational law.
  • Students will be made familiar with the principal features of a range of domestic and transnational legal systems / orders;
  • The overall purpose is therefore to provide a theoretical and practical grasp of core issues, which can be useful for academic as all well as professional work.


  • The course offers students the opportunity to study in depth the major groupings of the world’s legal systems and the connections which exist between them.
  • In the first part of this course, the class will consider the aims and method of comparative and transnational law, such as the debate about the functional approach to comparative law. The knowledge gained in the first part will be applied in the second part, when this method will be used to focus upon a range of specific topics, such as legal transplants and legal families.
  • No knowledge of a foreign language is required, but those students who have a reading knowledge of one or more foreign languages will have access to a wider range of reference material.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • good knowledge and understanding of the relevance and methods of comparative and transnational law;
  • identify the main legal families of law in the world and evaluate the significance of perceived similarities and dissimilarities between them;
  • detailed knowledge and understanding of selected topics of particular relevance to comparative and transnational lawyers;
  • demonstrate understanding of current debates on issues such as the harmonisation of law and the viability of legal transplants in law reform
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the ability to engage in independent analysis of a range of laws from various jurisdictions;
  • the ability to critically evaluate the views of legal commentators drawn from a range disciplines and to adopt and defend a reasoned position on the issues explored;
  • the ability to apply their knowledge to practical cases
  • the ability to engage in independent research on complex legal problems.
Key Skills:
  • originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline
  • ability to describe accurately and comprehensibly the arguments and analysis of other commentators
  • ability to evaluate critically the arguments of others
  • ability to carry out research and solve practical questions

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be taught by interactive seminars, supported by private study by students.
  • Assessment will be by written essays, providing students with a choice of topics. Students will be encouraged to develop confidence in formulating and articulating their own ideas and perspectives on the issues.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 7.5 Most weeks of term 2 15
Preparation and Reading 135

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 3000 words 100% Essay, 3000 words, different title

Formative Assessment:

1500 word essay

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University